TERROIR: NEW TERRITORY FOR CIDER, PERRY & FRUIT WINE
So what on earth has ‘terroir’ – a word more commonly used in winemaking circles – got to do with cidermaking (perries and fruit wine, too)?
Indeed, most people think that cider is a drink that’s more usually quaffed in pint measures, usually in the pub, and is sometimes seen as one part of a binary choice with beer.
This view can be said to result, certainly in some measure, from the fact that there is no global definition of what cider is: in the UK, for example, it’s just 35% juice content – even less in other countries – all of which can be from concentrate (from pretty well anywhere). Essentially, the focus for mass market ciders is on homogeneity and manufactured consistency and the profit that comes from volume production. ‘Terroir’ is really not part of the thought process.
Yet ciders (and perries and fruit wines) can be – and are – being made from 100% fruit content without the use of any concentrates – the continuation of a craft which has been practised and valued over the centuries, even millennia, by different dynasties and cultures. These are products made in every way like grape wine, the only difference being the fruit.
Such products are not a year-long industrial manufacturing process either, but typically harvested seasonally, once a year in the autumn, just like grape wines and, like such wines, can indeed be redolent not only of the varietals used, but the locality where they’re grown – precisely what winemakers call terroir: the soils, aspect, geography and climate of the orchards where the apples and pears come from.
There’s something else to add to the terroir mix – the human element of the people, their culture and the techniques used to bring the fruit to harvest and the cider to fruition: in other words, the skill and passion of the cidermaker.
So how much like grape wine can these drinks be?
The simple answer is very: starting with the fact the dictionary definition of wine encompasses apples, pears and other fruits as much as the grape.
Ciders, perries and fruit wines exclusively fermented from 100% freshly-pressed juice, not from concentrates – the definition applied by Cider Is Wine’s protocol – include any number of wine attributes linked to the notion of terroir: like vintage, which resonates through the drink and the influences of a particular season and how it manifests itself; the land, particularly the geography and aspect which favour the type and quality of the fruit grown; and, of course, the fruit used, each one with its own unique taste; and last, by no means least, the knowledge of the maker to bring the best out in what Mother Nature’s bounty produces and the skill employed in creating drinks that run from the driest of the dry to the sweetest of the sweet, and every point in-between.
View video all about terroir in the North American state of Vermont by Meg Maker: Vermont Cider & Terroir
As we say at Cider Is Wine: it’s all about the taste – and you’ll find a product that’s a perfect fit with what you like to drink and match what you like to eat on the Cider Is Wine website.